NEW SHOES

barefoot-new-start-mindset

I have been fiercely trying to work out my version of this thing called “life” and never have I felt a greater need to find the mental and physical space to do so. 

As much as I’ve been doing some work around this in London, it’s a pretty noisy city and it’s pretty damn difficult to keep my own head quiet for 5 seconds to get a grip on the matter.

I decided that I really needed to step this up a gear, so… yesterday morning, the pup and I packed up the car and made our merry way to Norfolk.

We’re having 3 days here doing not much at all… just trying to zen the f**k out!

I’m working on this huge acceptance that I am not the same person I used to be and it was a tough pill to swallow. 

I still haven’t quite got it down but as I’m slowly releasing the belief that I have to continue doing what I’ve been doing for evermore simply because I’ve started it (and I damn well like to finish stuff I started!) life is getting a little easier and things are looking a hell of a lot brighter.

You see, the way I have been living in business and life has been like squeezing into shoes each and every day that are a size too small but which I’ve refused to take off for fear of being barefoot with unpainted toenails – I mean, what would people say?!

And no matter how pretty or sparkly these shoes are, and how many compliments I get about them, this does not make them any more comfortable and the blisters are now impossible to ignore.

I have realised that I am not failing, giving up or throwing my toys out the pram but I have simply done what all living things do, I have grown up.

I have outgrown my shoes and they no longer fit.

And that is fine because at the moment I’m enjoying wandering around barefoot, embracing my natural unpainted toenails, not minding what others think, and reconnecting with the ground I walk on.

I’ll be putting new shoes on eventually, don’t you worry about that, it’s just there are so many pairs out there to chose from.  I want to make sure that I don’t just pick the sparkly uncomfortable stilettos or settle for the boring but cosy slippers.  For this next chapter I am looking for a particularly special pair of shoes to encompass comfort, style and durability to not fall apart over the many miles I plan to walk in them.

PLAYERS NOT PAWNS

game-of-life-mindfulness

So a couple of blog posts back I made a bold statement – “I shall be a box ticker no more!” – Only at the time, I was referring to my choice in men.

However, over the last 2 weeks, and true to form, I got a little carried away and have evidently thrown all of my boxes out the window…

Any checklists to do with work, and life the way I’ve been living it the last few years has been tossed out.

Looking back, the start of this blog saw me at the start of some big changes. 

I’d just moved so I had a change in scenery (always helpful for new beginnings!) and I was starting to make some small habitual changes with regards to work habits, eating habits, alcohol habits and social habits too. 

3 months down the line and I now feel worlds apart from the anxiety and unease that was all consuming in April.

This feeling right now, however, is not all too unfamiliar. 

Slowly, I’m remembering more little anecdotes about my past and the way things used to be for me. 

My thinking is clearer and this new positivity I’ve been waking up with most days now is actually how I used to wake up every day years ago.

I used to be completely fearless, excited each morning about what they day would bring and I used to see every new day as an adventure. 

It would appear my adventure days are returning…

Because I have remembered something very important.

Something that applies to all of us.

We are born to be players not pawns.

And although I was worried it was fleeting, I now feel confident and sure enough to say that I’ve officially got my flow back.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the word, “flow” is basically when people forget themselves in a function. 

In flow, people are living so deeply in the moment and with full control, that their sense of time, place, and even self, melts away.

During these episodes of flow I feel calm, content and ridiculously present in the moment which we all know isn’t an easy task these days and has taken me by surprise now that I’m aware of what it is.

So what changed? 

I can’t pinpoint what exactly, and at the start I was a little worried that it was fleeting but I feel so much more confident that I’m finally getting back to my old self again.

I stated at the beginning of the blog that I was pushing some work things to the side and personal ones too and by that, I meant I was taking a damn chill pill with regards to everything in life. 

I stopped flying and tearing about to meet people – in particular, the ones that added no value to my life.

I stopped planning ahead days and weeks in advance and kept my diary as free as possible to take each day as it comes.

I stopped beating myself up for wanting to make the most of the glorious weather and choose longer sunnier walks with my dog over sitting in the office staring at a computer screen.

I quietened the noise in my head and was finally able to tune in with my gut, allowing it to start taking the lead and guiding me through each day.

I have stopped worrying about what I should or shouldn’t be doing and just been doing what I truly felt like doing.

As for work, well I’ve been having the most fun here!

I have genuinely been rocking up to see clients like I am their best friend and the connection that I’ve had with them has been unreal – work, once again, does not feel like work at all.  Hurrah!

Instead of taking any angst or outside mental baggage into appointments, I make a promise each morning if I’m seeing anyone that for the time I am with them we are going to laugh lots and have tonnes of fun and I am going to be 100% present with them in that moment.

It’s actually how I used to work at the beginning before I became such a stress head, worrying about where the business is going and all the things I needed to do to push it forward. As well as stressing about everything else in my personal life too.

A while back I stopped asking internally what I could do for my clients and instead selfishly began asking what they could do for me.  I think it’s fair to admit that I began doing this with people outside of work also. 

I stopped giving so freely and began living my work and personal life with ulterior motives.

I have now reminded myself that it’s okay to play – It’s the best and perhaps the only way to truly learn, discover and evolve.

Which is a bloody good thing as for the last year I have been seriously considering jacking in my entire Hair and Makeup Artistry career –  I just wasn’t having fun with it anymore and I was running out of drive and purpose to keep pushing on and continue.

Think about this for a moment  – Children are in flow constantly.  They use their brains and bodies to endlessly explore and take information from the environment they live in.

But, at some point in their lives, they stop.

They start to get ashamed that what they are doing is childish.

And this is perhaps our biggest mistake. 

When we stop listening to our gut, try to think only with our heads and stop living from a place of joy we are on a sure path to angst and misery.

It’s a fact – When we are in flow, self-conciseness dissolves and time passes quickly – It’s one of the most satisfying experiences in peoples lives.

And if you think you can’t be in flow in the workplace like I did, you’re wrong.  It’s also a fact that people are much more likely to reach a flow state at work than in leisure as work has a structure such as clear goals, immediate feedback and challenges matched to our abilities.

It’s why more and more people are taking on volunteer work as it’s nourishing them in ways that paid work simply is not.  

My daily checklists and routine have been a burden now for more than I care to remember.  They served a purpose at the start – Working for myself, I had to create a system to comply with to hold me accountable to get things done.  I also needed a personal checklist to ensure I kept myself fit, healthy and generally kept my home and personal life in order.

What people believe shapes what people achieve, however, and while complying can be an effective strategy for physical survival, it’s a crap one for personal fulfilment.

Satisfaction depends not merely on having goals but on having the right goals. Misunderstanding this leads sensible people down self-destructive paths. (Ahem…)

As for working your way up the career ladder and chasing after promotions or materialistic things, I’ve got some news for you. 

The science shows that the secret to high performances isn’t our biological, reward-and-punishment drive, but our deep desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to LIVE A LIFE ON PURPOSE.

We are all in pursuit of mastery of something or another.  But when it comes to mastering that activity, career or even personal relationship, you can approach it, you can hone in on it and you can get really, really close to it but you’ll never touch it.

It’s the source of frustration but also the source of allure – Why reach for something you can never fully attain?  But why not reach for it?

The joy is in the pursuit more than the realisation.

And that is why I will continue to play.  If it’s not making you happy and you’re not having fun with it, whatever it is, then what’s the point?

ROUTINE RULING

checklist-blog-overwhelm

We all need some sort of routine in our lives.  It’s what keeps us on track and keeps our lives in order so we know where we are at.  It can be a comfort blanket and a safety net when things go awry because living without structure will cause chaos in the long run.

Routine is important for every living creature: from the very basic feeding and sleeping times of babies to the more complex routines of parents, entrepreneurs or even athletes. 

Depending on our boundaries and goals, our routines will vary.

But what happens when your routine starts ruling you?

What happens when your own routine that you put in place no longer serves you and in fact feels like it’s working against you?   

Instead of keeping you in order and allowing you to get more shit done certain habits you’ve added to your routing actually end up hindering you.

There are so many personal development books, youtube videos and audios out there offering us a crazy amount of ideas to streamline our days or turn our mornings into miracles ones! 

I’ve personally got self-development books falling off my shelves and have tried MANY of their suggestions to try and restore order to my life and to live and work in the most productive and enjoyable way possible.  But it became apparent a few years ago that taking on board all of these suggestions and trying to work them into a schedule was actually becoming less of a help and resulting in a hell of a lot more stress!

I’m an addictive person, it doesn’t take me long to get a hook on something and then I totally overdo it!

For example:

The gym and its fitness classes have been my crutch for the last 8 years.  I remember starting out as a makeup artist and it was bloody tough! 

I used to sit on a bar stool in the kitchen, endlessly searching on my laptop for opportunities.  I’d be emailing and calling agents (to no avail,) writing out profiles on various film agency sites, scouring the entire internet for jobs, refreshing and reloading job boards every minute, searching for photographers to collaborate with and build my portfolio… the list was endless! 

It was hard enough to get work and then when I did it was usually unpaid or expenses only.   

As much as I was driven and determined, weeks and weeks of this along with a lot of the actual work I eventually did get being of no help to advance my career, I was running out of steam and my enthusiasm was dwindling.

I figured I had to get up for something in the morning to face the same monotonous internet search and cold outreach day after day and this is when I added a morning spin class to my routine.

Getting up and achieving something, even if it wasn’t work, felt good! 

So I added to my spin classes and built up a portfolio of classes – body pump, body attack, body combat and fat burn classes.  Sometimes I would stay in the gym for hours and do 3 back to back classes just so I felt like I’d accomplished something and was moving forward. 

This is where my healthy addition to my routine become a rather unhealthy addiction.

Eventually, I did start getting decent work in but if it got in the way of my gym classes and I couldn’t go to them I’d feel like shit.  My gym routine actually soon and the opposite effect on my wellbeing and began impacting on my thoughts towards other areas of my life.

I’d lost the balance… if I ever had it in the first place!

For the record, balance has never been my strong point, it hasn’t really been in my vocabulary! 

8 years down the line and I still struggle with the same damn gym battle only I’ve added a whole host of other things to the checklist that I “need” to do thus putting me in a further state of unrest, overwhelm and pure anxiety at trying to fit it all in!

Again it comes down to CUTTING IT RIGHT BACK! 

It’s super hard in today’s world with access to so much information at our fingertips that it’s so easy to fill our heads with a checklist miles long of things we “ought” to be doing.

We easily pick up ideas from others on social media, via blog posts or out and about in the real world and then try and incorporate them into our own already jam-packed schedule.

We should be in the gym, we should be playing sport, we should be taking cookery classes.

We should be setting aside time to work on our personal development, we should be taking care of our families, doing fun things with our friends, finding the person we’re supposed to spend the rest of our lives with.

We should be taking courses, we should be expanding our minds, we should be excelling in our careers, we should be achieving in our work, we should be finding time to cook healthy meals from scratch, we should be earning good money, we should always be going the extra mile for clients.

We should be rising early to make the best start to the day and we should be putting the hours into our business long into the night to succeed.

We should be running bubbles baths, we should be having “me” time, we should be reading novels each night for downtime, we should be getting early nights, we should find time for meditating.

We should do charitable work, we should constantly be bettering ourselves and we should always be available to help others.

We should walk our dogs, we should take our kids to and from school, we should take them to the park, we should spend quality time with them.

We should set an example.

We should “have it together.”

We should be able to push everything on our minds to one side at the drop of a hat and we should be able to pick back up again exactly where we left off at a moment’s notice.

Replace the “we” with an “I” and that’s the gist of my thought process.

In a single day after ambling about online or out and about, I notice what others are doing and feel that I “should” be doing the same to be living a “wholesome and happy life” just like they LOOK like they are living.

You’d think with a to-do list that long it gives you a higher chance to achieve more but tallying up an ambitious list of things to do does nothing but completely paralyse you to actually do nothing from the sheer overwhelm of it all.

I’m not a robot or superhuman.  Neither are you.

What I fail to remind myself is that we’re all on our very own journey and have built our own unique lives based around our thoughts, ideals and goals for our future.

We sometimes let the things we see distract us from our own path.

I think there are very few times I stop to look at the bigger picture and make the right decision as to whether adding “this and that” to my routine is really right for ME and MY end goals and if it will compliment MY journey.

This is an area which I REALLY need to work on.  Like most of the posts so far it supports my current journey of going back to basics.  To find the root, to work out where the hell I actually set out to go in the first place!

So.

My mission for this week is to remember who I am and where I am going and think thrice about taking on that extra task.  Is it really going to compliment MY life?  Is it in-line with my belief system?  Is it really going to help me to get to where I am going? 

If it’s a “No” to any of those… then I ain’t giving it the time of day!